All tagged December 2015

Book Review: Your Favorite Seuss compiled by Janet Schulman and Cathy Goldsmith

I didn’t read Dr. Seuss as a kid. At least I have no memory of reading his work. And I loved reading. And our home was full of books. I just don’t remember any Seuss.

Sometimes I wonder if my parents didn’t like Seuss. The more likely scenario, though, is that the mail order books that lined our shelves didn’t include Seuss as an option. We had a lot of National Geographic selections, though!

I remember when my brother graduated from high school, the valedictorian read parts of Oh, The Places You’ll Go. At first, I thought the young man had written the words and I was thinking, “Wow! This valedictorian is impressive.”

Then he explained the Seuss reference and I was blown away. Published on Ted Geisel’s birthday in 1990, this magically motivating story was the last one he wrote. What a profound swan song.

Book Review: Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

I received Watchmen as one of those Secret Santa “just exchange with one other person in the office” kinds of gifts. Boy did I luck out! A fellow geek had heard me talking about hobbits or house elves and thought I would enjoy this read.

How did I miss this interpretation of the super hero genre?

The story mostly takes place in 1985, a fantastic time for drawing horrific fashion and hair! Loved it. Super heroes have gone underground or retired after the Keene Act made their vigilante acts illegal. But someone has started killing them.

Book Review: Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi

If I could give this novel more than five stars, I would! I can’t believe how long it has taken me to read this distressing, but uplifting piece of historical fiction that reminds me of how precious freedom is.

Years ago, students had enthusiastically recommended this book to me. Middle school students. Enthused about historical fiction. I took note. I remember the students telling me that they couldn’t tell me too much without ruining the story and I remember writing the book title down.

Book Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

When I started looking for a book set during Christmas, I was not overly impressed with my findings. Many modern novels set at Christmas have these ridiculously convoluted romantic plot lines that don’t appeal to me. 

And then I realized that I wasn’t actually sure if I’d ever read A Christmas Carol. I’ve seen various adaptations of the story for stage and screen, but when I was in middle and high school, did I actually read the real Charles Dickens version? I had no idea. There are so many YA versions of the the classics and Scholastic always does nice adaptations, but had I ever really read this Christmas favorite as Dickens wrote it?

Book Review: Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

A book with a love triangle? Grrr…Stupid Reading Challenge! I loathe love triangles. 

Figuring out a book to read in this category…

A book that wouldn’t overly irritate me…

A book I haven’t already read…

Quite the challenge. 

Until I was glancing over some book lists of shorter novellas, perfect material for my end-of-the-year push to meet my goal. I saw Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Fred. That Brazilian guy. The hubby from Texas. The Cat? Surely, these characters appear in the novella thus making this book counts as a love triangle. And I’d finally read something by Capote!

Book Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I had never read the classic The Great Gatsby and I’ve been delaying watching any movie version of the story until I did sit down and read it. Unlike most of my other reviews, this one contains spoilers. I am just so disgusted by this story that I could not write anything that was neutral and spoiler-free.

Surprisingly, I read this novel much quicker than I thought I would. The pacing worked well. Fitzgerald camouflages most of his self-absorbed, superficial, and judgmental characters well in the first half of the story. Of course, I knew from popular references to the story that things would not end well, but I was hoping for some glimmer of hope.

Book Review: A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I was all excited to read about the meeting of two of literature’s greatest characters. And the first half of this story delighted me.

Their initial interactions surrounding questions of science, the list of potential pet peeves that Holmes ticks off, and Watson’s resolve to study Holmes’ talent for figuring facts out make for an engrossing first chapter.

Book Review: We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency by Parmy Olson

I saw author Parmy Olson on The Daily Show back in 2012. Her overview of her research into the hacker world of Anonymous and her discovery that most of these hackers were not technically accomplished got my attention.

This subculture fascinates me. How does the underbelly of the Internet work? How dark is the dark net? Who pulls all of these various strings? And ultimately, how secure is our data? How secure are we as individuals and as a nation?

Book Review: My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park by Cindy Jones

Finding a book for the Reading Challenge category “a book with bad reviews” was easier than I thought. I stumbled upon a perfectly pristine copy of My Jane Austen Summer at a used bookstore for $5. Since I’ve had some luck with chick-lit that I acquire in an impulsive fashion, I decided to not check any ratings on Goodreads until I got home. When I did see the terrible reviews, I kept the book because I had just started this Reading Challenge and figured I had at least one category ticked off.

I was not wrong.

Book Review: The Natural Superiority of the Left-Hander by James T. deKay

If you know a left-handed person who’s feeling out-of-place for being a southpaw, then this illustrated book of quirky facts about left-handers may be just the book to cheer them up.

I spotted this gem in my friend Andrea’s classroom. Many people, myself included, are guilty of giving Andrea a hard time about the amount of stuff that she collects. Generally, teachers hoard everything from handouts to books to sentimental cards to anything we think might be useful for any future project for any subject. We’re cool with sharing, so we gather across any curriculum. When I spotted this book, I was immediately drawn to it...probably because I’m a lefty who enjoys my own delusions of grandeur. I picked it up and Andrea said, “That was one of my dad’s favorites!”

Book Review: Storm Front (Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher has been on my “to read” radar for quite some time. Fellow science-fiction and fantasy friends in Denver raved about his urban fantasy series, mainly because of all the terrible things Butcher does to his protagonist. 

And when I heard Butcher on a panel at the Phoenix Comic Con, many audience questions centered around the fate of poor Harry Dresden. Fans love this character and root for him. I got the impression that they loved reading about every predicament Butcher put this wizard in, but the fans never stopped hoping Dresden would outwit Butcher. I had to work this book into my Reading Challenge. And then I remembered that The Dresden Files was a short-lived television series, which I have never seen, but plan to remedy that situation soon. Excellent. My reading plan was coming together!

Book Review: The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

I knew that the movie version of The Wizard of Oz took liberties with the story. The concept that each character from Kansas was transported symbolically into Oz was entirely Hollywood’s creation. And Dorothy’s ruby slippers were not really red.

But I never read or studied this book. After reading and disliking Wicked, taking an adventure in the Land of Oz was not something I longed for.

However, this book resonates with many people. I’ve had friends who own various Wizard of Oz dolls and decorations that they are quite attached to! I have fond childhood memories of watching the movie every year and being delighted at the transformation from black and white to color cinema. Even as a teacher, I can usually refer to characters from the The Wizard of Oz and the majority of my students know who the various players are.